Uganda Government spokesperson has no kind words for the US Ambassador to Uganda H.E Deborah Malac for criticizing the country calling jailed academician Dr. Stella Nyanzi ‘the champion of free speech’ and pointed out what Uganda government calls a ‘litany of negative and non-factual or conjured accusations’ about gagging the media and abusing the freedom of expression.
Uganda Media Centre Executive Director, Ofwono Opondo on Tuesday said the United States government is the least qualified to comment on the human rights situation, given its international record as the worst human rights violator.
Mr. Opondo was officially responding Ambassador Malac’s speech on World Press Freedom Day, in which, she referred specifically to the arrest of Makerere Research fellow, Dr. Stella Nyanzi and criticised Uganda government over alleged suffocation of the freedom of expression and the harassment of the players in the [Media] profession.’
The academic was officially charged in court on April 10, 2017, for referring to President Museveni as “a pair of buttocks” in a Facebook post. It is alleged that her online comments contravened the 2011 Computer Misuse Act and that she engaged in “cyber-harassment” and “offensive communication”.
“Uganda has value systems and it is these systems that define us,” Opondo said. For example, can Ambassador Malac cite at least one case in America where a university lecturer like Nyanzi has undressed to nudity before her students as a form of civil protest?
He said it was interesting to note that the statement was coming from an official whose government to this day continues to pursue and hunt alleged cyber criminals Edward Snowden and Julian Asange.
“The two are in exile,” said Mr. Opondo adding, “Snowden in Russian, and Asange is holed up in the embassy of Ecuador in the UK for close to a decade now. They fear they cannot be afforded justice in USA. Clearly, Snowden has found more freedom in Russia, which Ambassador Malac doesn’t find odd as she praises her America.”
He said where the State, through the police, has reasonable suspicion that an offense has been committed, due process has been followed.
“As guaranteed by our constitution, the government shall apprehend and prosecute those involved in suspected criminal transgressions in all its forms. As a sovereign country, we legislate for our citizens according to our norms and not necessarily USA ideals or whims. I believe the US has its values and code of conduct that govern her citizens as well.”
“Dr. Nyanzi is not being tried before a hastily established kangaroo court. She is before a gazetted Court and all the due processes of the law are being followed. She is accessing her lawyers and enjoying the liberties entitled to any suspect in Uganda.”
Mr. Opondo said where a matter is sub judice, it was wrong for anybody to pre-empt the fate of the suspected persons. “Dr. Stella Nyanzi was arrested and charged before competent courts of law not being tried before a hastily established kangaroo court.”
The US military has held 779 prisoners without trial at the Guantánamo Prison Camp since it opened on January 11, 2002.